By popular request….my new schedule/routine

by Kristen on March 23, 2011 · 32 comments

in Organization, Productivity

Last week, I shared how I’d gone away for 24 hours all by my lonesome not lonesome self, and that I’d used some of that time to rethink our schedule. A number of you wanted to take a peek at that, so this post is for you!

I’ll share my actual schedule in a minute, but first I’ll share how I came up with this plan.

Last fall, I bought Amy Andrews’ ebook Tell your Time (right now it’s on sale for $9), which introduced me to the whole concept of time budgeting. She suggests approaching time the same way a lot of us approach budgeting. When we make a budget we write down how much money we have and and then we list all of our expenses, and figure out which can stay, which can go, and which can be reduced.

Time is a limited resource, much like money is (well, at least it is for most of us!), and so budgeting it is a really brilliant idea!

So, to begin with, I figured out how many hours I had in a day. Mr. FG leaves for work at 5:15 and we go to bed at 8:30, so that gives me about 15 hours to work with.

Then I made a list of the things that I need to do each day (things like school, laundry, cooking dinner) and the things that I want to make time for (like spending time with Mr. FG), and assigned hours or half hours to those tasks. I also scribbled down some ideas I had about areas where I could do some smart multi-tasking.

Now, that was a good start for me, but I know myself well enough to know that I function better when I make a more detailed schedule for myself. I need to see where I can plug these hours and half hours into my day so that I can see what works and what doesn’t.

So, I took a piece of paper and put all my tasks/activities into a hourly schedule, which looks like this.

In case you can’t read my chicken scratch on that piece of paper, here’s how my day breaks down.

5:15-5:45-read Bible and pray

5:45-6:15-shower, get dressed, put on makeup, tidy up my room, and start a load of laundry

6:15-7:15-blog, read email, etc. (the kids’ alarm goes off at 7:00, at which point they get up, make their beds, get dressed, and read their Bibles)

7:15-8:00-breakfast, breakfast cleanup, think about dinner (i.e. does something need to be thawed? Started early?) Often during breakfast, we listen to and talk about music from a particular classical composer that we’re learning about.

8:00-8:45 (really, this has become more like 9:00 most days)-Joshua and Lisey practice the piano, I supervise, some days more than others, and I do some odds and ends type of chores. I often fold laundry, dust, or do some kitchen cleaning while they practice.

9:00-10:00-school with Sonia and Zoe. During this time, I am unavailable to Joshua and Lisey because it is waaay too frustrating to be interrupted multiple times. If we focus for an hour, we can get all of Sonia’s necessary schoolwork done (that’s because homeschooling is pretty darn efficient). In that time we do math, flash cards, handwriting, reading practice, catechism, science, and we read a nature library book plus some kind of fiction book. Zoe’s not officially doing school yet (she just turned 5 last month), but she does math, flash cards, reading practice, and she listens to everything I read out loud.

10:00-11:00-I check the schoolwork Joshua and Lisey have gotten done in the last two hours and help them with anything they’re stuck on.

11:00-12:00-lunch and lunch cleanup.

12:00-12:30-we work on our geography together. We’re doing a study of the 50 states currently and all four kids participate.

12:30-1:00-quiet reading time for the kids (Zoe just looks at books since she’s not able to read much other than Bob Books at the moment). They can read pretty much whatever book they want…the important thing is just that they’re reading. I’m pretty much the world’s biggest fan of the educational power of recreational reading.

While the kids read, I try to use the time to get a quiet task done, like updating my Quicken files, moderating blog comments, or working on a montly money email.

1:00-3:45-this is the most unscheduled part of my day. I wrap up school with Joshua and Lisey, do dinner prep (important on the days that I go to the gym), make sure the kids clean their rooms after school, and I usually have some time in there to spend on things that aren’t entirely necessary or that don’t need to be done every day, like decluttering a drawer, working ahead on blog posts, taking pictures, planning a menu, and so on.

3:45-4:45-I go to the gym. It takes about an hour to drive there, work out, and drive back home. I only go 3 days a week, though.

5:00-6:00-I finish making dinner and try to get it on the table before 5:30.

6:00-6:30-dinner clean up, pjs and teeth brushing for Sonia and Zoe

6:30-7:00-family worship. We sing, read the Bible, pray, and read through a novel out loud (right now it’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe).

7:00-7:15-get Sonia and Zoe tucked into bed.

7:15-8:15-free time to spend with Mr. FG. Sometimes we play music together, sometimes we read together, sometimes we decide to go to bed nice and early ;), or sometimes we get distracted and end up doing separate things during that hour (sometimes Mr. FG has stuff he needs to get done or one of us gets a phone call or something).

8:15-8:30-get ready for bed, and hit the hay. Because that pesky 4:40 alarm comes all too soon.

Putting it all that down on paper was really good for me, just like putting a budget down on paper is good. For instance, the paper schedule told me that I cannot expect to get my morning tasks done if I stay on the computer any later than 7:15 am…that’s just a fact. It’s a lot like looking at a budget sheet and realizing that you really cannot expect to pay your mortgage if you get takeout twice a week.

I know some people can’t abide a detailed schedule (so you should do what works for you instead), and I’m certainly not one to freak out if we eat lunch 15 minutes later than I planned for us to eat. But having a goal time in mind for certain activities/work helps to keep me on track.

If I know that being done with blogging by 7:15 will help our morning to go smoothly, I’m motivated to be efficient with my computer time.

If I know that I need to get dinner on the table between 5:00 and 5:30 in order to keep our evening on track, that helps to organize my day.

And if I know that we need to start family worship at 6:30 if I want to have an hour to spend with Mr. FG, that keeps me from wanting to go get sucked into the internet vortex after cleaning up dinner.

It’s about choices, really, and putting it all down on paper helped me to see those choices more clearly.

The other large benefit I’ve seen is that when I budget time for things, I’m less likely to be distracted and/or crabby about having to spend the time (and that’s so similar to the benefits of a monetary budget for me).

For instance, since I know I’ve budgeted the 10:00-11:00 hour for helping Joshua and Lisey, I don’t feel irritated when they have a pile of questions for me. A financial budget does the same thing for me…if I set aside money for a date night or for a vacation, I don’t feel uncomfortable or worried about it like I would if it wasn’t planned and budgeted.

Of course, not every day goes according to schedule…things like grocery shopping, doctor/dentist appointments, and piano teaching (which is just one day a week) all throw us off to some degree. Despite that, having a plan in place and goals in mind has most definitely helped me to be more efficient, and it’s also helped me to make more room in my life for things that aren’t urgent but are important (like time with Mr. FG, time in prayer, and so on). I highly recommend giving it a try!)

(disclosure: After I bought Amy Andrews’ Tell Your Time ebook and found it to be helpful, I signed up to be an affiliate. If you buy the book though the link in this post or through the ad in my sidebar, Amy shares a percentage of the sale with me. As always, though, I only recommend products I personally find to be valuable, and I would only encourage you to buy the book if the $9 price fits into your budget. )

Today’s 365 post: This is the coveted Yesercise mug

Joshua’s 365 post: This might be true!

Leave a Comment

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Karen S. March 23, 2011 at 7:36 am

I think that’s fantastic! Does your gym have child care?

As much as I love naptime I will welcome the flexibility to do things in the afternoon too, in a year or two (or three!).


2 Kristen March 23, 2011 at 10:07 am

It does, but I’ve opted not to use it. I go to the gym after Mr. FG gets back from work. Not ideal, but I prefer it to using the gym childcare, which is really not intended for people of Joshua and Lisey’s age.


3 Emma March 23, 2011 at 7:40 am

I love reading things like this! It’s inspiring and definitely makes me want to continue sticking to a clear cut schedule. I hope that when we have kids of our own, I can pull this type of schedule off. Thanks for sharing!


4 adventuresindinner March 23, 2011 at 9:06 am

Thanks so much for sharing this. You’ve shown how to work time into the day for yourself, the kiddoes and God. I’ll keep working away at this.

SO glad to see your choice in books. I love that series and read it usually once every couple of years. What do you have planned next?


5 Kristen March 23, 2011 at 10:07 am

I’m not sure! It’ll take us a bit to get through this whole series, so we’ve got some time to think on it. Maybe James and the Giant Peach?


6 adventuresindinner March 23, 2011 at 10:35 am

Ahh…Roald Dahl. I would love to read those for the first time again. The Percy Jackson series is pretty fabulous too but a bit old for your sweeties right now.


7 Reese March 23, 2011 at 10:03 am

So, I’m just wondering: How did your schedule change? What was it like before? Because, from what I know of you, you seem really efficient anyway. And I’m sure your last schedule was efficient, just not as much as this one!

It’s great to see how you accomplish everything in one day. I spend all day at work (and then have a 3 hour commute). So by the time I get home, I have energy to cook dinner, clean up (most days….) and then read before going to bed. I’m going to try and incorporate a few more things in there… I’m currently refinishing a hutch (woo!) and could use a little more time devoted to finishing it :)


8 Kristen March 23, 2011 at 10:09 am

Well, before I was NOT being very disciplined about getting up off the computer at 7:!5. I always kinda wanted to, but often ended up hanging out there until 8:00 or so.

I also started having the kids get up with an alarm so they can do their chores, and we switched piano practicing to earlier in the day, which has helped us to be a lot more consistent with it.

And before I was just correcting schoolwork at random times. Now that I have a particular time slot for it, I feel much more peaceful while correcting the work…not so much like I need to be doing something else, and the schoolwork is in the way, if that makes sense.

Also, we’re doing family worship a half hour earlier, which frees up some time later in the evening.


9 Jennifer @ Milk & Honey Mommy March 23, 2011 at 10:58 am


This is a “come back and read” post especially since you included all of the other links which I, or course, have to read. Thanks for sharing this information. I think making a schedule is very hard to do because I tend to try to make myself accountable for every minute. It will be fun reading to see how you put it all together and get EVERYTHING done.


10 Jennifer @ Milk & Honey Mommy March 23, 2011 at 10:59 am

I hit the button too soon. This will be my afternoon reading today.


11 Frances March 23, 2011 at 11:18 am



12 Kristen March 23, 2011 at 11:25 am

I do appreciate the compliment, but please don’t think of me more highly than you should! :) I struggle to limit my internet time, my house isn’t perfectly clean, I am sometimes impatient with my husband and kids, and I have a bazillion faults. So, don’t put me up on a pedestal…my real life friends could, I am sure, tell you that I am very down-to-earth and normal.


13 Jo@simplybeingmum March 23, 2011 at 11:58 am

Think I might check out the book – but not sure I can do a 5.15am start! :-) Jo


14 Kristen March 23, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Oh, dear heavens! 5:15 isn’t necessary! We get up at 4:40 only because Mr. FG’s job schedule requires it.


15 Monique DiCarlo March 23, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Wow, admire your discipline, but I guess you’ll have to, with 4 children and such a busy schedule. Looking at the school time (3 hrs?) is that an average time when home schooling? Regular school: 1080 – 1440 hours of education a year. I just recently became a single mom and work full time to provide for my daughter (8) and me, so our schedule is totally different, we’re still settling in as well. I just cancelled our cable TV, we’ll just watch a movie now and then. It is great your children spend a lot of time reading and on the piano, do they have other activities as well, like soccer or girl scouts? Even though our schedule seems a lot less busy, I’ll write down one myself and see how much more or other we can do (like blogging more often!), thanks for the inspiration!


16 Kristen March 23, 2011 at 3:58 pm

If you look up at the link I posted about homeschooling’s efficiency, you’ll find my answers to the hours of school question. In a nutshell, though, hours at traditional school are not all spent doing actual learning. Homeschooling kinda cuts through the time-wasting that happens at school and so subjects can be finished in a much shorter period of time.

All of my children are at or above grade level (mostly above) by doing several hours of schoolwork at home each day. I did the same all thru my education and I had a 4.0 grade average at college. :) And yep, it’s pretty common among homeschoolers to spend far fewer than 6 hours a day on schoolwork while still getting as much or more done than traditional schools do.

My kids are not currently involved in any formal extra-curricular activities, though we’re tossing around the idea of Tae-Kwon-Do. We’ll see.


17 sara March 23, 2011 at 3:57 pm

I NEED to sit down and write up a detailed schedule like this. I have one that’s a lot more vague, and I find myself not having time to get things done, that have to (like that pesky laundry lol!). Thanks for the motivation!


18 Sarah D March 23, 2011 at 4:05 pm

This is very impressive and I, with all the others here, admire your discipline. I’ve made lists like this in the past and have inevitably failed at sticking to it after a few weeks. Thus, I’ve become a “list-hater” more because I hate the feeling that I’ve failed when I look at it. Your suggestion in a previous post of jotting down lists and notes on the back of an envelope is about as close to a list as I get. I do have a loose structure, and I consciously think about the things I need to get done. While this is certainly better for me than flying by the seat of my pants, on the other hand, I steer very clear of spreadsheet and printed out lists that hang on the refrigerator (can you tell I’m a fluid, go-with-the-flow kind of girl??).

What I got from this is that even small and simple changes, like getting off the computer at a certain time so that you can get on with your day, can really help with productivity. For me, shutting off the computer during school hours has been one of those simple changes that have made a big difference.

Thanks for the peek at your new schedule…I was curious too. :-)


19 WilliamB March 25, 2011 at 10:41 am

I find that a timer helps me waste less time. I have a digital watch with three alarms and a timer. I set the alarms so I get going when i should (leave for work, break for lunch, leave for home) and set the timer for 15 min so my “quick break” stays quick. I’m still terrible about that last bit: too often I think “I’ll just finish reading this blog (or whatever)” and suddenly I’ve lost another 30 min.


20 kolfinna March 23, 2011 at 4:11 pm

I’ve tried schedules and have yet to find something that I can work with. Being a working mom I have 4-6 hours a day to get everything….or get as much done as I can. I haven’t done too bad I don’t think.


21 Rebecca March 23, 2011 at 4:41 pm

I also do a daily schedule, but it varies by day of the week. And it is very flexible, because with three little ones, 2 with autism, and 2 in school at least part time along with in home therapy, life gets busy. Some things are set in stone, like the AM routine, which daddy does before he leaves to work. Kid # 1 gets on the bus to full day kindergarten and #2 has therapy AM before lunch and Early Childhood in the PM. Both boys are home off the bus at 3pm and therapy again in the afternoon till 5:45pm. My daughter is still home all day with me.

I break my chores up by day, never in my life would I choose to punish myself with a daily load of laundry! Monday and Thurs are laundry days, and that’s it! Tues is often cooking and baking day to take the load off of other days. (although I cook lots of other days too) Wed is usually my lots of little things day where I clean and pick up as needed in and around the house.

I make a point of taking time the night before and in the morning as I wake up to visualize the day ahead and what I want to make happen that day. I jot those items and meals on the dry erase board in the kitchen so I can see it and refer to it if needed. Those items get worked in around the stuff that has to happen every day, like meals, school, therapy, etc. The main family schedule and boys therapy schedules are there also.


22 Sarah March 23, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Great work. I have a very effective schedule too. It is amazing what you can accomplish if you spend your time wisely.


23 robbiekay March 23, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Yay! Though I hadn’t voiced it, I was hoping, too, that you would share your new schedule. I’ve never purchased an e-book before, but I just might purchase this one! I love the idea of calling it a time *budget*. I’ve referred to time maps, time templates, etc., but not a time budget before. I may have to start using this term when talking to DH as he has a tendency to take on too much, forgetting that there are only 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. Of course, my time map only has 2 1/2 hours for evening chores (because that’s how much time I have between the time I get home and bedtime), despite the fact that I have over four hours of evening chores so I guess I could benefit from starting to think in terms of budgeting, too. :)

BTW, I would have loved to have been homeschooled. As a child I was so frustrated with how inefficient the school day was. I remember thinking that if they would cut out recess we could be done an hour earlier. I loved it when we would go on trips during the school year and my mother would get the assignments from the teacher allowing me to get my work done in just a couple hours each morning at the hotel before heading out.


24 Zaheen March 23, 2011 at 5:52 pm

I think it’s so great that you noticed that there was something unsatisfactory about your schedule and took the time to find out what it was and did something to fix it, rather than continuing to just get along with how it was. That might be one of the reasons that you are so effective with your time, when there’s a glitch, you take the time to work it out, allowing you maximum productivity. You’re very inspiring!


25 Katy Wolk-Stanley March 23, 2011 at 10:39 pm

I’ve been thinking that I should document a day, but I haven’t done so because my days vary so widely. Maybe next week when the kids are done with spring break.

This way I can look to find where I’m wasting time. I am preparing to be horrified.



26 Katy Wolk-Stanley March 24, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Then again, I have half the number of children you do, they’re of an independent age and are at school 5 days a week. This affords me a different style of daily routine.




27 Sharon March 24, 2011 at 9:07 am

I am really encouraged with this post. Often I will wonder where all of my time goes, and a lot of it is just plain wasted. If I set up a weekly schedule to include dinner prep, laundry, straightening up, etc., there will be many more leisure hours over the weekend. And that is worth it right there.


28 Amara March 24, 2011 at 9:31 am

Hi! As a new homeschooler, I have a question about your homeschooling time with the older children. What subjects do the children do during the more independent time in the morning? And…are you pretty much reading/writing/arithmetic with the younger set (with the exception of the geo unit study you are all doing?) I sincerely wish that I had been homeschooled, because your confidence is lovely! Yea for second generation homeschooling!


29 Chelsey March 24, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Your blog posts so often accidentally coincide with something in my own life, it’s nuts!

Just the other evening, after realizing that my own time gets sucked into an Internet/TV vortex more often than I care to admit, I sat down and did almost exactly what you did with your own schedule. I’m also beginning to do freelancing, and need to figure out how to manage my time as if I’m my own employer…that’s new to me.

One problem for me is that I work two jobs, and I’m scheduled different shifts for these jobs every week. Rather than writing down the specific times, I determined the number of hours available and the number of hours left over after the things I wanted to accomplish, and will plug it into days each week in accordance with when I’m scheduled for work. Also, if I’m not scheduled that day, I have that 8 hours or so of time to use for things like grocery shopping, appointments, more time crafting/gardening/cooking/preserving/writing/editing, or perhaps a bike ride!

Here’s hoping I’m able to stick to it! :)


30 Amy Lynn Andrews March 24, 2011 at 7:26 pm


Thank you so much for the shout-out. I’m always so encouraged to know my little time management system has inspired someone else. And wow, you are rockin’ it!! Way to go!


31 Steve March 28, 2011 at 8:37 am

I like it, and it does make sense that if listing your spending works for money then listing your time should work with time too. More than enough times have I found myself still on the computer 20-30 minutes after I “wanted” to stop, by that time the next thing on your list is behind and the rest of the day follows. Before you know it, whole weeks/months have gone by without certain tasks being touched. So as much as I like and use GTD, it is also time that needs management too.

One question. I know you home educate and so you are not stuck with school times which allows possible freedom on a lot of things. What is it like, social wise, going to bed mid evening instead of the more “traditional” 10, 11 at night? For us, we might be eating at 8.30, or doing things with friends, or about to watch a movie etc… or on the odd occassion be asked out with friends or asked to baby sit. ie, our friend’s free time is the evening and so simple things like phone calls etc.. would not be possible if we went to bed early or got up early.

That is in no way any critisism or anything at all like that but instead interest. For me, I work better in the early morning before people/world has woken, but it would be hard for me to wake at 4 and go to bed early as everyone around me would be on different time. Mind you, I did do that during my time at university and it was a great feeling to have done most of a day’s work when everyone else was just waking up. But uni days were more flexible than “normal” life.


32 sdoc February 8, 2014 at 7:34 am

I know this is an older post, but maybe the conversation is still active…

I like doing values-based time management for myself. I also teach it to my students (I teach college freshmen) and to the confirmation class at church. Here are the basics: you figure out the three or four virtues/qualities that are most valuable to you. Certainly, lots of things are valuable, but what are the three or four things that are MOST valuable?

Like, for me, responsibility, teaching, learning, and creating are four things that make me who I am. Music and athletics are not that important to me. Now, music is a wonderful thing! Athletics are a wonderful thing! They might be important to other folks, but they just aren’t part of *me*.

So then, I write down all my activities, and I figure out if I was “doing” one of my virtues… grocery shopping is not very exciting, but I feel *responsible* and competent as I gather up what my family needs. Teaching confirmation class is a *teaching* bit, and I also *learn* a lot about myself and my faith. I love to cook and to knit, and I’m happy to *create* things.

Those are just examples. But I look through my calendar and I ask myself: am I spending my time being who I think I am? Am I living in what I hold valuable? If I am, well done. If not…. then how can I?


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